Weblog (home)


Pattern of
the Month

On the Needles
(...and Off the Needles)



About the
Idle Hands

Archive Entries for February 2014

« January 2014 | Main | March 2014 »

Friday February 28, 2014

Books in February

  • Bryant and May on the Loose and Bryant and May off the Rails
    by Christopher Fowler
    [read by Tim Goodman]

    BOM-B&MOffTheRails.jpg BOM-B&MOnTheLoose.jpg I was alerted this series when the "Invisibe Code" was nominated for the ITV3 Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read and (of course) was immediately taken by the heroes names. But they turned out to be not at all what I anticipated.
    I think I was expecting Agatha Raisin meets Inspector Steine (both of whom I love) - something rather nostalgic and twee. In a sense they are much more "realistic" if that's not too ridiculous a description, given the basic premise of a forgotten branch of the police force whose two key officers are in their 80s, and who solve crimes using distinctly surreal methods. Far from a disappointment, these books truly appeal to my nostalgic leanings; the author uses the peculiar reminiscences and esoteric researches of Arthur Bryant to provide a QI style compendium of interesting facts - and if it starts getting too out of hand, reins him in using the other characters, (although I have to say he is in no danger of losing me as an fascinated listener).
    And finally on top of all that as a mere background - he tells a jolly good crime story to boot. I love them. If I have any criticism at all it is that Bryant is such a great character he positively leaps from the page and seems more fleshed out than the others, though I feel this is resolving itself as each new book appears. I am guessing there is a kind of "Sherlock Holmes" problem with the character.
    These two books brought the characters back in a "two book deal" after the closure of their premises in Mornington Crescent threatened an end to the Peculiar Crime Unit; the "Mr Fox" storyline is continues through both books - but no need to feel short-changed as it runs alongside a new plot in Off the Rails.
    "The critically acclaimed cult detectives Bryant & May are the stars of ten deranged novels that explore London’s most arcane mysteries, from its hidden rivers to its secret societies."

  • Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermidBOM-BeneathTheBleeding.jpg
    I haven't read many of this series but did do a marathon of the repeated "Wire in the Blood" series on TV. In this story, Tony is laid up in hospital and Carol pursues a serial killer. [Much less sensationalism than the TV thankfully].
    I especially enjoyed the construction of the plot here - several threads in parallel and no predicatable connections - it is a thing about Val's writing (do you mind if I call you Val?) I really like. Many of the (TV) plots I've seen recently contrive very interesting and mysterious scenarios that are then a bit disappointing in the denoument; by this I mean the explanation is either blatantly inconsistent or just does not seem to be convincing in terms of human behaviour and motivation.
    I noticed Val on TV a couple of times recently - once demonstrating her quiet superiority and intelligence on "Only Connect" - which is a pretty challenging quiz even when made slightly easier for the "celebrities".

  • Short Stories by Michael Connelly
    Another example of the digital short story used as a marketing technique. So I duly purchased my three stories for 99p each plus their included "tasters" of newer novels. Excellent.
    BOM-MullhollandDrive.jpg BOM-Switchblade.jpg BOM-AngleOfInvestigation.jpg
    • Mullholland Drive: includes the stories Mulholland Drive, Two Bagger, and Cahoots - plus a taster of The Black Box.
    • Switchblade: includes the stories Switchblade, Two Bagger, and Cahoots - plus a taster of The Gods of Guilt.
    • Angle of Investigation: includes the stories Christmas Even, Father's Day, and Angle of Investigation - plus a taster of The Drop.

  • IanCarmichael.jpg I listened to another of the Lord Peter Wimsey BBC dramatisations "Murder Must Advertise" on Radio 4 Extra. Lord Peter goes "under cover" in an advertising agency - not altogether successfully - and the author draws on her own work experience in this environment. I was really keen to listen to this because about 10 years ago my friend Helen lent me a boxed set of audio cassettes of this radio play. I listened to the first cassette - but then when I moved on to the second I was greeted to a jolly Highland version of "Marie's wedding" - it was excellent but no match for Ian Carmichael. Helen concluded that the real second cassette had somehow been left in the player in her car - which had been taken away to that great car dealer in the sky - so I was left with a cliff-hanger.... Until now.

Posted on February 28, 2014 at 11:57 AM. Category: Books of the Month.

Sunday February 23, 2014



I finally finished sewing up the Orkney cardigan - I am delighted with it - but not so much with my figure inside it - it's really quite tight. I am hoping this is the heaviest I will ever be and that I can look forward to a slimmer me so it might not be such a squeeze in the longer term....

Posted on February 23, 2014 at 11:43 AM. Category: Knitting.